Air Quality – Securing the Future

Air Quality in Milton Keynes is carefully monitored and an annual report is prepared and submitted in fulfilment of Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, Local Air Quality Management. The current report, 2014 Air Quality Progress Report for Milton Keynes Council can be Downloaded Here.

The city must confront some significant challenges over the coming decades. Within the transport context, these come primarily from two major sources:

  1. Over the past 25 years, increasing concerns over global warming and environmental degradation have led to a disenchantment with the car as a universal means of transport. For a city in which the entire urban infrastructure is postulated around use of the car, this presents a major concern.
  2. The success of the city has led to plans for expansion which go well beyond the limits of the vision created by the original urban planners. This will mean that even the ample provision of road space provided in the original spatial plan will become inadequate, and congestion (and the associated pollution) will inevitably rise.

Some years ago, the borough council became alert to these problems and began to plan for the future accordingly. A central proposition which emerged at that time was that a high degree of continuing car usage is inevitable given the city’s existing infrastructure, and a concerted effort must therefore be made to ensure that the vehicles on the city’s roads will be as clean as possible. Over the past 40 years, Milton Keynes has become a world-wide exemplar of a planned city. Visitors come from all over the world to see the city and learn from the original design intent. The council is determined that this reputation will be maintained and enhanced, and that Milton Keynes will become as well known internationally for its leadership in the field of ultra-low carbon vehicles and environmentally friendly transport solutions, as it is in the field of urban design and town planning.

In recent years, Milton Keynes has made a very significant effort to encourage the local take-up of EVs. From an early success in the OLEV-sponsored Plugged-in Places scheme, the city has gone on to introduce over 200 on-street charging points for users of EVs, along with the nation’s largest and most dense fleet of rapid chargers (there are more than 50 rapid chargers now installed and working within the city limits). The city has also introduced the UK’s first wirelessly- charged electric bus service, and has an aggressive plan for introducing electric taxis (there are more than 1,200 private-hire vehicles operating in Milton Keynes).

From this track record, it can be seen that defending the current high standard of environmental quality is very high on the council’s agenda, and the active encouragement of ultra- low emission vehicles will continue to be central to that plan. The Go Ultra Low City project represents an ideal opportunity for the city to accelerate its efforts in this direction.

Milton Keynes is expected to grow rapidly over the next twenty years. It is essential that as the borough grows, so does the range of transport choices available to residents and visitors alike. Making better use of existing infrastructure, improving highways and the Redway cycle path connectivity and providing an attractive public transport network are key. This will allow Milton Keynes to continue to prosper and provide an excellent quality of life for all of its residents and a positive experience for visitors.